Following on from my review of the amazing Capcom Arcade Stadium, I’ve got some more Capcom greatness to take a look at. The Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise really is one of my favourite ‘old school’ series. From the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins way back in 1985, the brilliant Ghouls ‘n Ghosts sequel from 1988, the simply sublime Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts from 1991. The Gargoyle/Demon Quest spin-offs, the overlooked Maximo games. Even the very little known Makaimura for WonderSwan game. I just love any and everything Ghosts ‘n Goblins, I even wrote a retrospective looking at the whole franchise back in 2019. A retrospective I finished by saying “an all new Ghosts ‘n Goblins game for the modern audience still using that classic gameplay would be amazing. Some kind of remake/reboot”.
In February of this year, Capcom released Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. It looked great from the trailer. Classic G’n G gameplay, but with a modern edge. I was both elated and annoyed. Elated because we got a new G ‘n G title, annoyed because I don’t own a Switch, so I couldn’t play it. Then, a few weeks back and it was announced that Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection would be ported to the other consoles… I was happy.
Well now I have finally played Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, it is time to see just what it is made of. First up, this is pure, old school arcade action. If you’ve ever played a G ‘n G game before, then you know exactly what you’re getting here. Playing as a brave knight called Arthur, you have to rescue Princess Prin-Prin who has been kidnapped and taken to the Demon Realm. Fast action platforming with plenty of shooting of classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins enemies. What Resurrection does is it takes a lot of elements from the first three games in the series and mushes them all together. As you’ll play, you’ll instantly recognise all of the enemies, the zombies, skeletons, giants, pigmen and more. The bosses are all from the first three games too, only they’ve got a lot more tricks up their sleeves now.
Everything about this game will definitely hit a nostalgia nerve with anyone who loved the originals. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a perfectly penned love letter to a bygone age of gaming. You can choose one of two different routes through the game… At first, as the two opening levels have two alternate paths to take. But after that, it’s a single route to the end. As for the levels themselves, they’re very open and pretty long. All of those classic weapons from the previous games are back too, got a favourite from one of the other G ‘n G games? Then you’re sure to find it here. Oh and now Arthur can be upgraded. Magic attacks, the ability to hold more than one weapon and more. Sadly, the double jump from the SNES game is sorely missing. Honestly, I’d trade every single upgrade in this game for a double jump.
It’s also a challenge how the upgrades work too. It is not as if you just finish a level and get to pick from the upgrades, you have to pay for them with Umbral Bees. These bees are hidden in each level and you have to find the right spot for them to be revealed. Even then, collecting them may not be quite as easy as it first seems as these bees fly about the level and never in the same pattern. Some just fly around in a circle and are easy to nab, others will move all over the place and even put you in a direct path of danger and death. It becomes a skill in itself to grab these things before they are gone for good.
Controlling Artur often feels like a bit of a chore. He slugs along and feels clunky. I get why though, that was he was like in the originals and this game is recreating that feeling. You can shoot in four directions, but there are times when you really could do with attacking on the diagonal too. Again, this is what it was like in the originals. But I think how sluggish Arthur feels could put off a lot of gamers. Still, if you’re familiar with the original G ‘n G titles, then you’ll feel very comfortable with just how Arthur controls.
Looks-wise, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a beautiful looking title. Wonderful hand-drawn art, highly detailed backgrounds, splendid animation, Everything looks amazing and very atmospheric, but still recognisable from previous entries in the series. Each level has its own unique look and the hand-drawn art really stands out and makes them look glorious. Even the sound department is wonderful, with excellent rearrangements of instantly recognisable G ‘n G tunes. Everything works and clicks together, making a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Okay, so let’s get this out of the way. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is insanely hard. I believe that, when talking about anything Ghosts ‘n Goblins that you have to, by law, make reference and comparison to Dark Souls. So there you go, there’s your Dark Souls reference right there. Now, just saying that Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is hard doesn’t really get across just how difficult the game is. If you’ve ever played any of the G ‘n G games before, then you already know how hard they are. Resurrection ups the ante by adding selectable difficulty settings. There’s the Page mode (easy) through to Legend (very hard). Even so, the Page setting is still pretty difficult, you’ll not be breezing through the game at all. I settled for Knight setting (normal) and even that was still bloody difficult. On the lower difficulty settings, Arthur can take more than the classic two hits. In fact, on the easiest setting (I had to check it out), you can respawn exactly where you die. This definitely takes a big chunk of the challenge out of the game, even on the Squire setting, you can take five hits before you die… No respawning though and you have to rely on checkpoints.
Then the other two difficulties are more like the older G ‘n G games with two hit deaths. Purists will probably scoff at there being easier difficulty settings in a Ghosts ‘n Goblins, but for me, I think it’s a great idea. You have the best of both worlds as newbies to the franchise can ease themselves in and get used to just how tricky-dicky these games are. While hardened vets can dive right into the brutality of the game and get their buttocks whacked over and over again. I actually thought I’d try it on Legend setting and it took me three hours to finish the first level. Oh, and in keeping with tradition, finishing the game once will not give you the proper ending. You, you have to finish it twice to see the real finale of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. After you do finish it once, the game allows you to play special shadow levels. Here, the levels are played in the dark and they have slightly different layouts and surprises. It’s really more like having two games in one.
Still, you will die a lot regardless of which difficulty setting you play on. But that is the very nature of these G ‘n G games. You have to die to learn what you did wrong, to progress further. Each death is a small step towards the end of the game and you’ll need to play and replay each level to learn everything you can about them. There isn’t a gamer on this planet who could pick up this game and get to the end on their first try. Trial and error is the name of the game (well Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is the name of the game, but you know what I mean), and only by dying a lot will you learn to get better and better. I lost count of how many deaths I had in my two playthroughs. Yet, none of them felt cheap. Each death I suffered was because I got cocky, mistimed a jump, tried to rush where I didn’t need to, got a bit too overconfident against a boss, etc. I learned every time and those deaths made me better at the game.
Now, normally when I do these reviews, I look at how much the game is selling for and decide if it is worth the money. As I write this sentence right now, I have not looked into how much Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is going for, because I want to do something a bit different. For this review, I’m going to say how much I’d be happy paying for the game (I got my review copy for free, and free is always a great price) and then look at how much it is being sold for. Now I have put a good chunk of time into the game and gotten a decent understanding of just what it has to offer. Given the difficulty of the game, the upgrade system, unlockables, alternate paths, hidden secrets and more. I’d quite honestly be happy spending £25, £30 at a push. You do get a lot of game here and while it’s certainly not for everyone, I think that Ghosts ‘n Goblins fans will really get a nostalgic kick out of this, I did.
Now looking at the price, Resurrection is being sold at £24.99. Yup, that’s a fair price for what you get. This a hard as coffin nails game, but that is what the G ‘n G franchise is all about. There’s good variety in the levels, the upgrade system really helps to even the odds, it looks great and plays even better. Old school gaming for those that want a very tough but fair challenge. For me, a measure of a great game is one that draws you back in even if you’ve already poured plenty of time into it. I’ve put in a good twelve hours or so into Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection already, got to the end credits twice, and I really can’t wait to get back into it.